What is happening in the Panama canal? This conversation with our colleagues in Panama discusses the complexities surrounding the operation of the Canal; particularly in the face of environmental changes and the need for sustainable water management.
Video update with our colleagues from Estela Panama office
Estela Shipping Panamá SA
Boulevard Panamá Pacífico
Panama, Panama 01371 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Water Levels: The primary issue with the Panama Canal is the low water levels in Gatun Lake, a crucial source for operating the canal. The lake is not at its optimum level due to a lack of rain, affecting the number of vessels that can transit daily.
Transit Reservation System: Due to the low water levels, the canal authorities have implemented a reservation system for vessel transits. The reservation process involves a daily auction, with prices starting at $55,000 for regular vessels and $93,000 for larger vessels.
Impact on Vessel Transit: Small craft have a better chance of transiting with less delay, but still face at least a week’s delay. Larger vessels or yachts could face up to a month’s delay without a reservation.
Auction Process: To cross the canal, vessels must book a space through an agent. Auction prices for transits have significantly increased, with some reaching over a million dollars for regular vessels and over three million for larger vessels.
Historical Context: This problem is not new; similar issues were faced around 2010-2017. Solutions such as creating new artificial lakes and water reserves are being considered, but these are costly and long-term projects.
Environmental Factors: The lack of rain, combined with substantial heat leading to high evaporation rates, exacerbates the situation. The canal also provides water for Panama City’s inhabitants, adding to the demand.
Future Prospects: There is hope that the situation will improve with the rainy season, but the conversation highlights the need for greater water conservation awareness among Panamanians and the importance of government action to address these issues long-term.
Implications for Yachts and Small Craft: The discussion suggests that while there are challenges, small crafts and yachts are still welcome and can find opportunities to transit, albeit with proper planning and considering the increased costs and potential delays.